Budget riding on storm water utility

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LEWISTON – There’s about $860,000 riding on a new storm water utility.

That’s how much the city hopes to trim off of the fiscal 2006-07 budget, according to City Administrator Jim Bennett.

Councilors are considering beginning assessments on storm water in January 2007.

The city would charge a fee based on the amount of hard surfaces on a lot – such as driveways, sidewalks and roofs. The fee would target large businesses and private organizations such as Bates College, churches and hospitals.

Private homeowners would pay a set fee, $30 per year. They’d make that up in reduced property taxes.

Businesses with large paved areas and nonprofits would pay the balance, Bennett said.

The new revenue would let the city shift costs for street sweeping, culvert work and annual catch basin cleaning away from property taxes, reducing them by $860,000. That would reduce property taxes by about $50 on a $135,000 home.

Beginning it six months earlier, in July, would trim another $630,000 off of property taxes, Bennett said.

Councilors have yet to sign off on the storm water utility, Bennett said. They’re scheduled to take up the matter again at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The final public hearing on the budget is scheduled May 22.

According to the City Charter, councilors have to adopt the final budget by June 1.

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